Sci-tech

Federal judge halts Keystone XL pipeline construction for environmental review

Federal judge halts Keystone XL pipeline construction for environmental review

TransCanada Corp.'s long-troubled Keystone XL oil pipeline project hit another roadblock as a U.S. District Court in Montana ruled it must wait for a further environmental review.

The ruling by Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana dealt a stinging setback to Trump and the oil industry and served up a big win for conservationists and indigenous groups.

Morris found that the United States government's use of a 2014 environmental review to justify issuing a presidential permit for construction of the cross-border pipeline violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

"This is a significant setback for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project and big win for Indigenous defenders, the environment, and for the thousands of people who have been fighting this pipeline for almost a decade".

The 1,900-kilometer-long pipeline is created to transport up to 830,000 barrels per day of tar sand oil from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, where it would then enter existing pipelines to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. "The courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists, and Native communities".

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In doing so the administration overturned a ruling by then president Barack Obama in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds, in particular the U.S. contribution to climate change.

"It's clear that this decision tonight will delay the pipeline significantly", said Hayes, who noted that a proper environmental impact statement of this scope usually takes about a year to complete.

NPR reached out to TransCanada early Friday for comment on the ruling but did not hear back by the time of publishing.

Western Canadian Select crude oil is selling at about $18 a barrel as its discount to US benchmark West Texas Intermediate as a lack of pipeline capacity bottlenecks production in Alberta. -Canada border. TransCanada joined the litigation to defend the permit approval.

What is the Keystone XL Pipeline?

"If we are serious about halving emissions from fossil fuels in the next 10 years and avoiding climate catastrophe, we must drop any new tar sands pipelines, full stop". The U.S. Obama said, was now a "global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change".

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The judge added that the Trump administration had not adequately accounted for potential declines in oil prices, which have been depressed since the crash of 2014, and which would have a major effect on the long-term viability of such a project.

- The department "acted on incomplete information regarding" the potential damage to cultural resources in Indian territory along the route.

"An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate".

Morris' order does not permanently extinguish hopes Keystone XL will go ahead, but it will require the administration to come up with a better explanation as to why it should proceed.

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